Independent office to oversee Tuam baby home excavation

Independent office to oversee Tuam baby home excavation

THE GOVERNMENT has approved a proposal to establish an independent Office to lead an intervention at the site of the former Mother and Baby Institution in Tuam, Co. Galway.

The intervention will involve the excavation, recovery, analysis, identification (if possible) and re-interment of the children’s remains located at the site. The proposal to establish the Office of Director of Authorised Intervention, Tuam, follows on from the signing into law of the Institutional Burials Act 2022 earlier this month.

The Act, which provides the underlying legislative basis for the intervention, allows the Government, by Order, to direct an intervention at a site where manifestly inappropriate burials of people who died in residential institutions have taken place.

An Order may be taken when the criteria set out in the legislation are met, with the Government yesterday confirming that they are satisfied that the criteria are met in relation to Tuam.

Speaking yesterday, Minister for Chidren, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O'Gorman said:

“The Government has today approved my proposal for an intervention at the site of the former Mother and Baby institution in Tuam under the Institutional Burials Act and a draft Order directing intervention will now be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas for approval.

"These are the final steps necessary in order to appoint a Director and start the excavation in Tuam. Affected families and, indeed, the people of Ireland have waited a long time for this. If approved by the Houses I will appoint a Director in the Autumn with a view to starting the excavation as soon as possible.”

The Minister also updated Government on the strong progress more generally on implementing the Action Plan for Survivors and Former Residents of Mother and Baby Institutions which was published last November. He noted that 8 out of the 22 actions have been completed, with good work underway on many others.

Tuam-based historian and campaigner Catherine Corless welcomed the development and said that families of deceased children will be particularly relieved.

"They have been pleading for about five years to get those babies out of there," she said on RTÉ's Drivetime. "They were found in 2017 and all this should have happened back then.

"It’s not clear yet when they will be gathering DNA for relatives. That is in the legislation.

"It is good news for survivors and it’s great news for people who have family in that sewage facility. I am very relieved that it has come to this."